Maasai vs Wildlife (Nat Geo Article)

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Apr 14th, 2006, 01:45 AM
  #21
 
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Rocco,
It was I who posted the link because was thinking about this thread, and I WARNED about the T-shirt talk. There are some other issues though.
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Apr 14th, 2006, 02:19 AM
  #22
 
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It was me who mentioned this thread in the other thread. I'm going to west Serengeti in 3 months, so I'll let you guys know how things are over there, afterwards.

About TinTin; I'm from BE, so I was born a fan. You have to see TinTin's Afrika adventure in it's own timeframe (50's).

TinTin's not important. But the effects of pressure of mankind on nature, are.
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Apr 14th, 2006, 02:30 AM
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Pixelpower,
Is there a smiley for your name? As George Monbiot is busy you’ll have to investigate. I hope you wont get declared persona non grata.
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Apr 14th, 2006, 04:32 AM
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A smilie? What are you talking about?

I'm just expressing my opinion; I'm a TinTin fan, straiht and married (heehee), and I think Africa's got bigger problems to tackle than a T-shirt. ;-) I hope I don't become persona non grata for that.

Not sure why you mention Monbiot actually.
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Apr 14th, 2006, 05:12 AM
  #25
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Posting this here also. I am not trying to start a rumor about this place--I am trying to pin down the accuracy of one that I heard. Does anyone have any info?

Thanks Nyamera:
I read the Food and Wine article in the other post and it says this:

"But if the thought of enjoying so much luxury in a land where so many people have so little causes guilt pangs, consider that Grumeti supports the economy of five local villages, whose people work as waitstaff, gardeners, masons and carpenters. The resort also supports more than a hundred rangers hired to patrol the area, many of them reformed poachers lured by Grumeti's higher wages."

Do you notice what job is missing from the list? Maybe it is merely an oversight but I did hear a comment about white staff when I was in TZ. I would like to hear from someone who has actually stayed there --or knows the staff to find out about their guides.
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Apr 14th, 2006, 05:26 AM
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Pixelpower,
I just thought about smileys because Bat has a smiley.

There had been some talk about George Monbiot’s “No Man’s Land – an Investigative Journey Through Kenya and Tanzania”, but not in this thread so it became a bit confusing. I got the impression you were going to continue his work
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Apr 14th, 2006, 06:16 AM
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,
Managers aren’t mentioned either … Though it does sound unlikely that Grumeti Reserves would have white guides. I suppose the only way to find out what’s going on is to talk to local people. People who have stayed there will, like the food and wine guy, “know” that local people should be very grateful. What exactly did you hear?
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Apr 14th, 2006, 08:01 AM
  #28
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Yes, I wish Monbiot was around. This does sound an awful lot like what he describes in his book "No Man's Land". Wonder what he is doing now?
 
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Apr 14th, 2006, 08:05 AM
  #29
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This is the latest I have found on an internet search: http://www.monbiot.com/
Still fighting the good fight.
 
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Apr 14th, 2006, 08:47 AM
  #30
 
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I will say only this and then I will move on to other things because I know how complex things are in Tanzania and how hard it is to balance the needs of the people, the land and the wildlife. Every story has a hundred subplots and every solution creates another issue!

As far as I can tell I am the only one here who has visited not only Grumeti Reserves (once), but also the Ikoma area (many times) and I actually drove through the Ikoma area to the north and into the Serengeti at the northern-most gate on the west side.

I did this accompanied by outspoken friends - Maasai and Meru on most occasions.

To support my mapping project, I visited Grumeti Reserves and all their properties for a whole day with my Meru guide. We went on game drives, had lunch and toured the properties.

I am certainly no VIP overseas agent. We both looked ragged and very dirty from driving for two days. I was simply introduced as the crazy Kiliwarrior guy who takes people on Kilimanjaro treks and drives around the parks with my GPS creating maps.

Nevertheless, the GR staff treated both of us with the utmost respect. My Meru friend was dreaming of bringing his wife to see Sabora Plains. For him it was just a great experience to see the ultra-nice tents and great views of the plains. And the abundance of animals since he always thought the animals were avoiding Grumeti because of poaching and hunting and the growing population.

Our guides were white South Africans. The hostess was white (South African if I remember correctly.) The rest of the crew were native Tanzanians from different cultures - if you ask them they would say they are Tanzanian.

We left GR on a high - amazed with what we saw in terms of luxury but also with our game sightings highlighted by a huge pride of lions looking healthy and relaxed at Saboroa Plains.

We spent that night at the Serena Hotel in Seronera. My guide shared my room (we paid rack rates for a double HB) and we had dinner together. As we were running a bit late, the dining room was only 50% full. During dinner, we noticed that our waiter was ignoring us. I had to ask for everything. As we were leaving, I was pulled aside (TWICE) to explain that I gave my guide permission to join me for dinner and that I will settle his bills.

My objection is not so much with their "concern" to protect me as a white tourist. I was upset because they did not bother to check our booking and they could've done it in a more discrete manner. Instead, they clearly wanted to embarrassed my guide & friend and I would rather not repeat what he told me afterwards. It is ironic is it not?

My experience at GR was no different from my visits to Madikwe and the other private reserves in my native South Africa with mostly white guides and local spotters.

In Tanzania there is currently no grading system for guides. I fully understand why GR will want to employ guides with long resumes of excellence at luxury reserves in Southern Africa. Or at least initially.

I am hopefull that GR will train and employ a long list of excellent local guides who can eventually run their safaris. This may be happening already.

I know nothing about the Ikoma situation. My view is simply that it does not have to a budget lodge/camp to be good for the community. Budget camps/lodges pay little and provide no career advancement (such as proper training, etc). Their employees have to stay in camp for months because the camp is not able/willing to pay for their trips home to see their families. And when they get fired at the end of the busy season they have nothing to show for their hard work.

The luxury-style lodges have a more constant flow of clients and they can afford to keep a maintenance crew and move their core employees to other camps during slow periods. They know how expensive it is to train new staff.

Let's give GR a chance and see what happens after a year or two.
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Apr 14th, 2006, 10:20 AM
  #31
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Nyamera:

I was told that they were importing white South Africans for staff--all of the staff. That is certainly not correct--as Leely pointed out from looking at the website and as the F&W author notes. As to guides, it appears consistent with Eben's observations. The person who told me was a black Tanzanian who was not happy about it.

Eben I can understand that you might say give them a chance but surely there were competent local Tanzanian guides. Recruit them from Nomad or some of the other top notch companies.
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Apr 14th, 2006, 10:26 AM
  #32
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Eben: I am still thinking about this. You said "My experience at GR was no different from my visits to Madikwe and the other private reserves in my native South Africa with mostly white guides and local spotters." I am sure that is true.

BUT why use the South African model--a country that has made strides but still has a problem in integrating blacks into guiding?

Worse, to my thinking--why introduce it into a country that does NOT have that problem.
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Apr 14th, 2006, 10:36 AM
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Eben,
So they actually import (white) guides from South Africa. I didn’t think they could do that, but the right amount of money into the right politicians pockets fixes everything. Maybe they can’t find enough suitable local guides, but from what I’ve read in trip reports there doesn’t seem to be a shortage of excellent Tanzanian guides. I suppose they want a complete South Africa luxury lodge concept and the white guide, black spotter blends perfectly with the colonial design. You’re probably right that it’s generally better to work for a luxury lodge than a budget one. Is Ikoma a “budget lodge”? Anyway, only some local people will work at the lodge, it’s also essential to be a respectful neighbour, and it appears that GR only wants to get rid its neighbours.
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Apr 14th, 2006, 11:54 AM
  #34
 
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Nyamera, I have no intention of continuing the work of Monbiot! ;-)

Eben; thanks for that insight. I must admit I am a bit puzzled by all this. Yes, some part of me does think they deserve a chance, but on the other hand; that white guide only thing strikes a sensirive nerve...

I think (indeed, like you) that it doesn't matter if a lodge is $$$$ or budget. But what might matter is the way they get lhe locals involved. I think Ikoma's strategy may prove to be moresuccesfulm. But then again, I might be wrong.

About Ikoma; just got a bit of info from Marjolein (www.exploretanzania.com, our touroperator). She said Moivaro (the new owners of Ikoma) waited a while before investing money into the lodge, as it was usure for them what the situation was. Apparently there was a bit of tension, causing Movairo to think they might be kicked out of there. However, now things have cooled down, and they are doing great. New cancas for the tents, new beds, and a newx part of the camp (more beds) being built a bit firther at this moment.
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Apr 14th, 2006, 05:42 PM
  #35
 
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I have to agree with bat and Nyamera. WHY import guides from South Africa? I find it difficult to believe that they really couldn't find any capable Tanzanian guides and suspect that this has more to do with the image that they're trying to portray (an image that I personally find somewhat disturbing).
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Apr 14th, 2006, 05:53 PM
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Well, I will give GR a chance mentally, as practically I could never afford to stay there. But I too find it hard to believe that they couldn't locate Tanzanian guides who are very familiar with the Serengeti eco-system already. If I were a Tanzanian guide I would feel resentful--and mighty insulted.

And this doesn't even address GR's relations with its "neighbors."

However, yes, I do see the irony in the way Eben and his buddy/guide were treated at GR versus how they were treated at the Serena. We had a vaguely similar rude awakening at the Wildlife. At the time I chalked it up to "Well, this is such a budget lodge that they don't really do things graciously."

Oy.
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Apr 14th, 2006, 07:13 PM
  #37
 
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Leely,
What happened at the Wildlife lodge?
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Apr 14th, 2006, 08:44 PM
  #38
 
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First of all, the Tintin comments were made directly to Nyamera and related to a comment she made in a previous thread about not using smileys often enough... please no-one take it seriously.

For my two shillings...the local hanging out with the foreigner (or seen-as-poor with seen-as-rich)and being treated like a potential criminal is by no means restricted to Tanzania. My wife (who is non-white) and I (white)have the same problem here in Thailand from time to time, one of Elizabeth Taylor's husbands had it...etc. ad infinitum. People all over the world just cannot get their brains to take any but the path of least resistance. Homo sapiens, but not too of the sapiens, please. A little education is a dangerous thing, goes the saying and it is among the partially but not comprehensively educated that such things are most apparent. That Serena and Wildlife Lodge are going to be more guilty of it is absolutely no surprise (in Thailand my wife and I, for example, only holiday in more exclusive places or places where there is little tourism so that we don't have to go risk going through it - "I'm sorry sir, but we don't have a Thai language menu for the lady"..etc - even though it will happen only occasionally). Eben, you surely know and knew that and it surely shouldn't be anything to do with this argument.. staff at an exclusive resort are better trained than staff at a mid-range resort... sure. Has this something to do with South Africans? Possibly (they certainly do have great expertise in the hospitality industry) but you'd have to compare like with like to conclude.

And I know that you have moved on from this topic, so the above is only a rhetorical question!
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Apr 15th, 2006, 04:15 AM
  #39
 
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We were quite bummed when we returned to the NGO Sopa and couldn't share dinner or a cocktail with our guide.

This came to a shock to us as we had been hanging out at every other camp we had stayed at previously. Why is this weird rule in place? Is it as simple as, they just don't have enough room to accom. any extra people beyond guests?

Also, the guide and staff quarters didn't look so great. Interestingly, this was the first place we saw a small amount of attitude.
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Apr 15th, 2006, 05:36 AM
  #40
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Leely -

Oy!

Who would have known?
 
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